Thursday, 16 April 2020

Land Rover Katy Celebrating the Clap for the NHS & Carers April 2020

If you were anywhere near our house tonight you got quite a bit of noise.. We had smiles all round from the neighbours (from an appropriate distance of course!)

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Staying at home

We've all be asked to stay at home and we are doing as requested.. I've added some rather amateur artwork to Rhian's excellent crochet work of the NHS Bear inspired by her mom (hence it's in sisters colours) and it's all on display in the front of our ambulance now...

The bear does know how to wear his PPE properly :) 

Katy needs a clean (no real excuses are there) and I will get to that, but we have already had our first appreciative audience in the 2 little girls on their bikes coming past as we were finishing installing the bear. #stayathome #welovetheNHS

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Welsh Festival of Land Rovers 2020


As part of the South Wales Land Rover Club we are pleased to be supporting the 2020 Welsh Festival of Land Rovers

From what we already know there will be some superb vehicles on show, at least 3 ambulances, a Land Rover Hearse (presumably in case the ambulances are not successful) and a really wonderful set of Series and Later Vehicles.

There are only 70 places available for display vehicles so click the pictures or this link to go direct to if you want to register to be on the display

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Series 1 Ambulance Reborn

Some readers will have heard of Land Rover Reborn which is a service offered by Jaguar Land Rover and something that the SWLRC team visited back in 2016 and was written up HERE at the time

Well it's not just JLR who can do a wonderful job in bringing a piece of history back to life in a totally wonderful manner

Back in 2015 I came across a set of photographs that had been taken by a team who had found what remained of a Series 1 Ambulance rotting in a junk pile.

At the time a brief comment was made in the Series 1 club forum part of which is paraphrased here

This is a Bonalack and Sons ambulance bodied 1956 series one Land Rover 107". It is believed these ambulances were built to fill three RAF contracts totaling 35 vehicles and this is the second one ever built being serial No. 870600013 (the run started at 00012)  and is believed to be the only surviving example certainly in the UK, but possibly the world, so is a very rare vehicle.
It has been standing since 1969.. Due to this long period of standing, all the steel work is in very poor condition/non existent. 
The chassis (a 107" station wagon chassis) is completely gone from the seat box forward and what is left under the body is fairly thin. The bulkhead I think was removed as the only parts I have from it are the vent flaps and the VIN plate (luckily). 
The main ambulance body, which is really the rare bit, is of aluminium construction so has largely survived, it's not without it's knocks and scrapes, but is certainly savable, which is why I think this could be a worthwhile project. Also included are the original front doors, front wings, single piece floor/gearbox tunnel, windscreen and bonnet. The engine and gearbox had, unfortunately, been removed long ago, and despite my best efforts, could not be located anywhere on the property. The back axle is still fitted, and amazingly still turns freely, so moving it around and loading it on and off of trailers is relatively easy, the front axle, however, is not present.   
Paperwork wise, there is the original Buff log book, stating date of first registration as 10 July 1963, There is also an original MOT certificate dated 1969,
I heard little more until June 2019 when I was contacted by Mike, one of the project team who had come across the Land Rover Katy Ambulance Pages  and had contacted me to see if I had more pictures that could help the project.

I shared what I had, but I think that they had already found most of them through the links provided or elsewhere and wished them well. We discussed a visit, but I was not able to join them at the time due to my work commitments so I wished them well ...

The team were clearly very busy and it was not until October when Mike got in contact again saying that they had completed the bulk of the work and they would now be happy to share some pictures of their finished and really wonderfully looking vehicle

(Pictures reproduced with permission)

I am sure that there will still be the odd job that they find needs doing for some time to come, just like any Land Rover maintenance jobs "just occur".

There is an in depth article in the December 2019 issue of Land Rover Monthly which is a wonderful story of discovery and dedication. I won't repeat it here, but would recommend it as a good read. and to say that it beat the new Defender in space on the cover is something to shout about!

I've not managed to see it in person yet, but for me the nicest part of the discussions with the team was the wonderful comment from Mike which I really appreciated: -
Thank you for your help along the way, your blog was the first point of reference we came across and helped a lot! And gave us some leads! we are grateful for people like yourself who spend time researching and writing about history.
Kind regards 
Michael Tokley
I'm grateful that there are excellent mechanics who can do such good work out there keeping history alive!

Thursday, 9 January 2020

Solar Sucess

Its been a while since I posted on here, but there has been some progress recently

I have finished fitting the dual charge system into Katy and have left her over Christmas and the new year without the intelligent battery charger running during which time I would have expected the alarm etc. to have drawn down the battery enough to make the starting at least a little sluggish

However the new split charge system seems to have done its's work well and she started on first turnover

This is the next phase of the system I described installing in the post do-land-rovers-dream-of-electric-sheep and consists of an intelligent device between the main and leisure battery

 Admittedly the wiring looks a little untidy at the moment, its out of sight, but will be sorted finally once I am 100% sure that the new system is working fully as I want. in the mean time all I need to do is pull the passenger seat forwards to get at all of this...

 Another addition has been the installation of a bluetooth controller monitoring system so I can see the state of the system on my phone. It was a very easy install.. plug it in, connect via bluetooth, Change Default Password! and use it.

I put that bit in bold because it's a key step that anyone installing any form of computer equipment should do. its got a bit too much cable and I need to find a tidier way to deal with that, but it is all working 

This is what I see on my phone, the state of the voltages at any point in time and what mode the charger is using (in this case float because the batteries are full

And I can look at the last 30 days to see what it did.. not much because there has not been much drawn from the batteries, but useful when we get going and use the system for real

There is an option in the system where you can connect both batteries to help start in an emergency. I have not as yet put this in because if both are fully charged why would I need it? Time will tell if that is the correct decision

Monday, 3 June 2019

Cold Beer - Second attempt

Back in 2012 I reported on the work I had done to install a 3 way fridge, and then I briefly reported on the issues we had had with smelling gas fumes whilst sleeping in her. This made me decide that I would never use a gas powered fridge and we removed the 3 way fridge 

Since then we have been using an electric cool box, but that has limitations and the performance is not very good and I have been wanting to get a decent front opening fridge installed for a while. Part of the project needed to be upgraded power and key to that was the new solar panel reported in the last posting

The issue is cost. Strangely the decent over landing type fridges are hugely expensive and it's taken a while to find one at a decent price. I finally tracked down a new Vitrifrigo c39i 12/24 and 240v capable unit at about half price with a minor cosmetic defect that would not even be seen once it was installed. 

You can just about see the minor damage on the panel at the bottom left of this picture. I checked that it was not touching any components on the inside and all was fine.

The first phase was to clear out the space and feed some wires from the 12v feed from the leisure battery 

Then I installed the 240v - 24v automatic converter

Finally, being a yorkshireman and tight with money, and because of the position inside a cupboard, instead of purchasing some expensive kit to fasten it in I used a couple of brackets fastened into the lower door fittings which were unused from another project

And added another couple of brackets fastened to a screw in the frame on the top of the fridge  to ensure that it is 100% firm in place

And we are good to go. I've tested it on the 240v/24v feed and from the 12v feed and all seems well.

The initial testing proved that the Danfoss compressor is as quiet as I had hoped. The final phase of this will be to add the split charge system, but in the mean time it's ready and it's time for some cold beer!

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Do Land Rovers Dream of Electric Sheep Part II?

Maybe not, but I was dreaming of a better solar panel setup than the one that she arrived with which was a 10 watt panel installed in 2001 and probably not very efficient at all any more

The first thing to do was remove the old panel I have to admit that she looks a lot better without the panel on the top, but it will be coming back as you will see later

What we have purchased is an 80W flexible panel which fits exactly over the rigid panel that the old 10W panel was made into.  I would have like to go for a 100-150W panel, but this makes refitting an awful lot easier

I also bought a new Victron MPPT controller which feeds the leisure battery. This is more effciient than the old controller and being modern technology also has the capability of being linked to a smartphone app via bluetooth to give me some details on the charge profile of the battery. That's going to be a later addition when I find the bluetooth dongle at a reasonable price probably second hand.

I also bought a heavy duty cable with fuse to go from the controller to the leisure battery  and some solar panel cable to connect from the panel to the controller – I bought the shortest cable because all I really wanted was the connections because I was connecting this into the grey cable which was already in place through the roof.

The previous owner had run a cable with two black cores which was not clear once I had disconnected the old panel so Rhian helped me test with the circuit tester. The one I bought is designed to be cut in ½ so you need twice the length that you have between the panel connections and the controller. It was the same for me with the battery cable – I only needed  a couple of feet, but the spare will come in useful some time.

The new connections were all made in a waterproof housing which had grommets where the cable came through

But for "belt and braces" the whole connection box was sealed with flexible sealant as well

I would have liked to have virtually no loose wires, but that would have meant cutting the connections off the solar panel so I arranged them on the rear. it will mean there is spare cable if I need to adjust things so maybe not a bad thing

From this last picture you can see the old frame which was bolted to the roof-rack and to the blue light bracket on the roof. Once it was connected I took the cardboard I had temporarily put over the cells and things worked first time. I now have more reliable power and a basis of a modern system with reliable wiring which I need for the next 2 projects

Here she is sporting the new panel at the Welsh Festival of Land Rovers

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